Types of Store Layouts

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Retail Floor Plans 101

Woman looks at clothes in fashion store
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A well-planned retail store layout allows a retailer to maximize the sales for each square foot of the allocated selling space within the store.

Store layouts generally show the size and location of each department, any permanent structures, fixture locations and customer traffic patterns.

Each floor plan and store layout will depend on the type of products sold, the building location and how much the business can afford to put into the overall store design.

A solid floor plan is the perfect balance of ultimate customer experience and maximized revenue per square foot. Many retailers are missing this point. They simply focus on revenue and forget customer experience. Statistics today have proven that retailers who deliver on experience have higher revenues than those that don't - even if the square footage is smaller. 

For example, some retailers "crowd" the sales floor with lots of merchandise. While this increases selection, it also decreases customer traffic flow space. Many customers are turned off by crowded stores. They prefer cleaner, wider aisles that make them feel less stress. Which means that the experience for this customer is poor. Customers would prefer an edited merchandising approach in a department store. Examples of these stores would be Macy's or Belk. 

However, some customers prefer to "bargain hunt" in off-price stores. In these stores, the clutter actually adds to the "deal" atmosphere for the customer. Examples of these stores would be TJ Maxx or Ross. 

Whatever your store type, make sure you are considering customer experience in the floor plan. What may make for the most efficient space planning, might make for the worst customer experience. For example, I worked with a home improvement store to redesign their space. They had terrific merchandise, but terrible merchandising. The tile section was on the left side of the store, but the tools and supplies needed for the tile installation were on the right side of the store.

This posed two problems. First, impulse buys were reduced. If you are installing new tile, that is what is on your mind. Anything that looks like it might help you with your endeavor will catch your eye and be a possible add-on sale. But if you put spray paint next to the tile, it's not likely you will get it in the customer's basket. 

Second, because the customer had to walk from one side of the store to the other, they were frustrated. Sometimes they didn't even make the walk and then got home and realized they were missing something and had to go back - and none of us like that hassle. 

Below are a few basic store layouts.

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Straight Floor Plan

Straight Floor Plan - Retail Store Layout
Straight Floor Plan.

The straight floor plan is an excellent store layout for most any type of retail store. It makes use of the walls and fixtures to create small spaces within the retail store. The straight floor plan is one of the most economical store designs.

The downside to this plan is the sight lines in the store. Depending on the front entrance, it may be difficult for a customer to see the variety of merchandise you have or find a location quickly. 

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Diagonal Floor Plan

Diagonal Floor Plan - Retail Store Layout
Diagonal Floor Plan.

The diagonal floor plan is a good store layout for self-service types of retail stores. It offers excellent visibility for cashiers and customers. The diagonal floor plan invites movement and traffic flow to the retail store.

This plan is more "customer friendly." With a straight plan, the customer can feel like they are in a maze. With this floor plan, the customer has a more open traffic pattern.

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Angular Floor Plan

Angular Floor Plan - Retail Store Layout
Angular Floor Plan.

The angular floor plan is best used for high-end specialty stores. The curves and angles of fixtures and walls makes for a more expensive store design. However, the soft angles create better traffic flow throughout the retail store.

This design has the lowest amount of available display space, so it is best for specialty stores who display edited inventories versus large selections. 

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Geometric Floor Plan

Geometric Floor Plan - Retail Store Layout
Geometric Floor Plan.

The geometric floor plan is a suitable store design for clothing and apparel shops. It uses racks and fixtures to create an interesting and out-of-the-ordinary type of store design without a high cost.

This plan makes a statement. So make sure it is the statement you are wanting to make with your brand. 

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Mixed Floor Plan

Mixed Floor Plan - Retail Store Layout
Mixed Floor Plan.

As you might have guessed, the mixed floor plan incorporates the straight, diagonal and angular floor plans to create the most functional store design. The layout moves traffic towards the walls and back of the store. 

It is a solid layout for most any type of retailer. And truthfully, the best experience stores have multiple shapes, elevations and designs. This appeals to a larger array of customers.